The University of Law has an award-winning pro bono service, with programmes designed to enhance the employability of our students. Here are details of some of the programmes we have run in Bristol.
Legal Advice Clinic (LAC)
Members of the public visit our legal advice clinic for face-to-face meetings on a range of legal matters. The clinics are in partnership with charities and legal advice centres in the local area, offering services to those with real need. Advice is provided to them in the form of a letter prepared by students further to research.
By taking part in this opportunity, you can attend the client interview, be involved in researching relevant areas of the law and draft advice.
Litigants in Person (LiP) Service
This scheme is run in collaboration with students from Bristol University, UWE and the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre. Since significant aid cutbacks were made under the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) the numbers of litigants in person (LiPs) attending civil and family courts have dramatically increased. Many of these people find themselves lost in the legal system with very little understanding of basic procedure and what is required.
You could help by delivering information sessions to LiPs about the court process and how to prepare for their court hearing. Sessions run each week at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre.
Criminal Law Advice Service (CAS)
Our Criminal Law Advice Service is operated in collaboration with charities in the local area. Whilst helping to provide this service, you will be notified of criminal law enquiries from service users and will need to research the relevant areas of law requiring advice, be present during the advising of the client and then draft a follow up letter of advice.
Duty Solicitor Shadowing
Students are given the opportunity to shadow a Duty Solicitor in the Magistrates’ Courts in Bristol. The clients attending may either be on bail or in custody.
You would be present whilst clients are interviewed and instructions taken, and also be in the court for the hearing. Post-hearing, you would undertake research on any issues that have arisen and look into sentencing guidelines. This would help you develop skills such as drafting attendance notes and conducting specific research.
Your Day in Court
Students will shadow a solicitor or barrister in the Magistrates’ or Crown Court. This opportunity allows you to gain an understanding of the court process and legal issues, and be able to see legal skills come to life in practice.
This programme would see you working in small groups with other students to research and prepare interactive workshops on a legal topic appropriate to your allocated audience. To date workshops have been delivered in schools, community groups and partner charities.
This is a fantastic opportunity to put your legal knowledge into practice, and a chance to develop other skills like advocacy and legal research.
Personal Support Unit (PSU)
The PSU, based at the Bristol Civil and Family Court Centre, is a small independent charity that offers non-legal support to litigants in person, their family members and other supporters. The PSU's service is free, independent and confidential and deals with requests, from the simple to the complex. The overall aim of the charity is to help litigants to better understand the court process.
You can volunteer at the PSU with a commitment of a minimum of 20 days over the academic year.
Recovery College at St Mungo’s
The aim of this service is to encourage confidence and enhance social relationships, giving users the opportunity to learn and gain new life skills in order to have a greater ability to manage their own lives.
This opportunity would see you develop and deliver three separate sessions as part of the Recovery College programme on improving communication skills, including negotiating and debating, in order to support the Recovery College participants.
Amnesty International Write for Rights
Students take part in a letter writing scheme on behalf of Amnesty International, culminating on International Human Rights Day in December, when hundreds of thousands of letters and emails are sent worldwide on behalf of perceived injustice. These letters aim to persuade government officials to release people imprisoned for expressing their opinion, stop the use of torture, commute death sentences, and end other human rights abuses.
Through this opportunity you will gain an insight into human rights issues and can develop your objective drafting and communication skills.
Legal Advocacy Support Project (LASP)
The Avon & Bristol Law Centre’s Legal Advocacy Support Project (LASP) is an award winning project that has attracted national press attention. With agencies such as law centres and advice centres facing cuts to funding, and a significant increase in benefit appeals, there is a desperate shortage of resources to meet the demand for legal advice and representation with benefit appeals.
Therefore LASP aims to make use of law students to increase the availability of effective advice and advocacy to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appellants.